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Top 10 Quentin Tarantino Films

By Conor Walsh · March 6, 2014

Since Reservoir Dogs (1992) emerged as a clear favorite at the 1992 Sundance Film Festival among audience and critics alike, Tarantino has gone from strength to strength, releasing classic after classic and becoming one of the most influential and respected filmmakers of all time.

Being an eccentric ‘film nerd’, Quentin mixes several genres of film in his creative projects; the result being a fusion of nostalgia and the creation of a whole new genre in moviemaking. Make no mistake, from his trademark written dialogue that flows so naturally, to the snappy visuals reminiscent of graphic novels, Tarantino is the greatest Writer/Director of his generation. Let’s face it, we all want to write like Quentin.

Other Mentionable Films:

[Sin City (2005)– Guest Director, My Best Friend’s Birthday (1987) –idea later became True Romance, Natural Born Killers (1994) – Story]

10. Four Rooms (The Man From Hollywood) (1995)

Yes, I know, this is merely a segment in a film split into four parts, but it is nonetheless a brilliant segment. Four Rooms, written and directed by Robert Rodriguez, Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell and our man Quentin Tarantino, stars Tim Roth as a goofball bell boy at an old school Los Angeles hotel on New Years Eve.

All four stories are entertaining, but Tarantino’s The Man From Hollywood is absolutely hilarious. Tarantino plays Chester, a rising Hollywood star staying in the penthouse suite with his friends Leo (Bruce Willis) and Norman (Paul Calderon). Without giving too much away, Chester and his Cristal drinking buddies need Ted the bellhop (Tim Roth) to oversee a bet involving a car, a Zipoo, and pinkie, and a whole lot of money. No disrespect to the other three Writer/Directors involved in the making of this project, but Tarantino killed it.

9. Death Proof (2007)

Tarantino’s B-Movie masterpiece is split into two separate stories. Two different groups of girls have a run in with Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell), a terrifying but strangely charming man who drives muscle cars and pinpoints groups of young women for him to terrorize for pleasure. Some groups are easy enough to get rid of. But this guy done picked the wrong girls this time. 

This is a real American Grindhouse B-Movie made to perfection in terms of what is needed in such a genre of film. Part of the Grindhouse series developed by he and Rodriguez (Sin City, Four Rooms), it’s far from a cinematic classic or triumph in terms of the real auteur-ism most expect from Tarantino. However, like Jackie Brown, Death Proof is an homage to a genre that Tarantino loved and took inspiration from. Whether or not it’s ‘quality’ film or not, Kurt Russel’s performance, the tension created in the screenplay and the final showdown make this film worth the watch.

8. Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004)

Part Two of this iconic mishmash starts off to perfection. Don’t get me wrong, the entire film is great, but the first half hour or so is pure Tarantino: Quick, crisp and stylish, with a real Western aesthetic.

The story continues where Volume One left off. Having killed half of her targets, The Bride (Uma Thurman) sets out to find the remaining former members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. However, she runs into a little trouble with Bill’s brother Budd (Michael Madsen), from which it seems there is no return. As she digs herself into this hole, Tarantino takes us back in time to The Bride’s Deadly Viper Assassination Squad training with Bill’s old teacher, Pai Mei (Chia Hui-Liu).

Still entertaining, still packed full of action and Old School influences, this second installment is a worthy addition to the unbelievably impressive portfolio of films this guy has under his belt. Once again, the performances are perfect for the purposes of this movie, as is the dialogue in a typically beautiful flowing script from one of the greatest writer/directors of our time.

7. Jackie Brown (1997)

Adapted from Elmore Leanard’s novel, Rum Punch, Pam Grier stars as Jackie Brown: a tough airline hostess who smuggles large amounts of money from Mexico to LA for ruthless arms dealer Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson) to earn a little extra on the side. Someone tips off the cops and Jackie is taken in for questioning, where it is discovered that on top of the $50,000 found in her carry on there was also some cocaine. In order to avoid some jail time, Jackie needs to make a deal with the cops, but together with her bail bondsman and love interest, Max Cherry (Robert Forster), a plan is devised to get over on both Ordell and the cops.

An homage to the Blaxploitation movies of the 1970’s, Jackie Brown brings us some great performances. Of course, Samuel L. Jackson shines as Ordell Robbie, and Robert De Niro is pretty funny and terrifying as Louis Gara: a has-been with a short temper and a weakness for getting stoned. But Pam Grier is excellent as the sly and fierce Jackie Brown, putting in a performance that deservedly re-buffed her career. She was after all returning to a genre she was very much familiar with in the 1970s, being the original Foxy Brown and everything.

The writing is great and the script delivers some great lines and moments, but for me it’s not quite like the standards Tarantino reached with his more familiar classic creations. However, it is what it is. The script is perfect for what Tarantino was trying to achieve and like all of the auteur’s films, it’s well worth the watch and the read.

6. Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2004)

Clarence Worley would be proud of this one. A Noir, Western, Kung Fu modern mash up that Sonny Chiba makes an appearance in. Oh yeh, Clarence wouldn’t be able to stop talking about it.

Kill Bill Vol.1 is arguably the better of the two films. Set in Modern day America, it follows the story of The Bride or Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman), former member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. After leaving that life behind, The Bride flees to El Paso and lives under a false name, hiding from her lover and master, Bill (David Carradine), who’s baby she currently holds in her stomach. However, things get ugly when Bill finds her on what was supposed to be her wedding day, and he and the remaining members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad massacre those present at the Church. Despite shooting The Bride in the head as she announces that the child is his, Bill forgets who he’s dealing with. The Bride wakes up from her coma after four years to remind her old chums that ‘revenge is a dish best served cold’.

I suppose you could call it nostalgic filmmaking. It has a modern visual aesthetic but the fight sequences; the characters and the story are extremely Old School in a good way entirely. The performances are extremely reminiscent of the genres from which Tarantino has sought influence, as is the, as always, outstanding dialogue. This is not to say that Tarantino has merely copied the aesthetics from something else. He has merely made the genres and their stereotypes his own with a wonderful script and a brilliantly entertaining Part 1.

5. True Romance (1993)

This counts, right? It flows like a Tarantino movie. It feels like a Tarantino movie. It reads like a Tarantino Script, because it is one. There’s no sign of it being anything other than a Tarantino movie. That’s not entirely true of course, Tony Scott does a beautiful job visually and the actors add their own flare to the poetry.

Set in Detroit, True Romance (1993) follows Clarence Worley (Christian Slater); a loner who works in a comic book store and has an extreme obsession with Elvis and Sonny Chiba Kung Fu movies. One night, whilst at the movie theatre, Clarence meets Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette), a call girl who works for a psychopath called Drexl (Gary Oldman). Despite finding out her profession and the fact that his boss set the whole meeting up, Clarence and Alabama fall in love, but Clarence wants to settle the score with Drexl before they get married. He and Drexl have a run in and Clarence ends up running away with what he thinks is Alabama’s stuff. Turns out it’s a shit load of cocaine. They go to LA in order to sell it, but little do they know, people more terrifying than Drexl are intent on getting it back.

This has got to be my favorite film of all time. It’s the reason I myself started to write. It’s sharp, it’s quick and it’s got the perfect mixture of love and action and comedy, all rolled into one. The performances are spot on, with some out of this world acting from Gary Oldman as Drexl, Dennis Hopper as Clarence’s father, Christopher Walken as a Mobster Boss and James Gandolfini as his psychotic henchman. I know, what a cast. Even Brad Pitt makes a hilarious appearance as the stoner roommate of Clarence’s friend in Los Angeles.

Tarantino’s script is the stuff of Gods and Legend’s, producing classic Scene after classic scene, with sharp and juicy dialogue throughout. From the scene in Drexl’s abode, to the oh so famous trailer scene and Gandolfini’s shining moment in the motel, this entire film from script to final product is perfection to me. Of course, if you asked me if I prefer Tarantino’s ending or Scott’s, I’d have to say…

Could I have one of those Chesterfields now?

4. Inglorious Basterds (2009)

Set in Nazi-occupied France in the 1940s, Tarantino’s War Western follows Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) and his team of American Jewish Soldiers as they plot with the British Army to kill the Fuhrer and his associates. At the same time, a young Cinema owner who escaped the clutches of Colonel Hans Landa ‘The Jew Hunter’ (Christoph Waltz) plots with her lover to do the exact same thing.

This film is just pure Tarantino. Scene after scene of bloody action and classic dialogue make this one of his greatest projects yet. The script is superbly written and gripping from page one and throughout, as one would expect. Just when you think he can’t match or better the trailer scene in True Romance, he not only brings us yet another brilliant Mexican standoff involving Michael Fassbender as a British disguised as a Nazi Officer, but he also goes and creates Colonel Hans Landa.

Now, all actors involved do brilliantly. From Brad Pitt’s witty portrayal of Aldo the Apache to Fassbender’s extremely posh Lieutenant Archie Hicox. However, the real star of this incredible movie is Christoph Waltz. Not one person would have guessed it was Christoph’s first role in Hollywood. He performed Quentin’s lines as though they were his own, with calm yet terrifying conviction. No wonder he earned himself his first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

3. Django Unchained (2012)

For me, Quentin’s Slave-era Western is his best film since he burst onto the scene with Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. Bounty Hunter Dr. King Shultz (Christoph Waltz) frees Django (Jamie Foxx) from slavery to employ him in his search for the Brittle brothers and various other wanted individuals. Django and Dr. Shultz make a deal that requires Django to help in the killing of the Brittle brothers before the Doctor can then help Django in the search for his wife, Broomhilda Von Shaft. Django and the Brittle brothers have a past, so of course he is more than happy to oblige. However, the trouble arises when they meet the acquaintance of Django’s wife’s employer, Calvin Candie (Leonardo Di Caprio).

Being an admirer of Westerns, especially the original Django starring Franco Nero (he makes a great little cameo in Tarantino’s masterpiece), I have to say Django Unchained blew me away. It felt so authentic and we as the audience can’t help but engage. The acting is superb and extremely fitting for the genre; from Leonardo Di Caprio’s turn as the southern psychopath Calvin Candie, to Samuel L. Jackson’s pretty much stand out performance as the spiteful and horrible Steven. Of course, Jamie Foxx is a perfect Django; a strong personality for the fastest gun in the south; but the only Academy Award for acting went to Christoph Waltz, who deservedly earned himself his second Supporting Actor Oscar for his turn as the generous and charismatic Dr. King Shultz.

It goes without saying, Quentin Tarantino’s Academy Award winning screenplay for Django Unchained is pure genius. If you want a little extra backstory to what we see on screen, read it. It’s vintage Tarantino a delight to read and to be inspired by. It more than makes up for the small role he plays close to the end of the film.

2. Pulp Fiction (1994)

Two years after the legendary Writer/Director’s incredible debut with Reservoir Dogs, Tarantino brought us his second directorial masterpiece, Pulp Fiction. Sticking with the back and forth story structure, this cult classic follows a few different characters: from the two enforcers of a ruthless Los Angeles Gangster, to a struggling boxer, to our ruthless Gangster’s provocative wife and a pair of small time stick up thieves; all stories intertwine in some violent and chaotic way or another to create an absolute triumph in cinema.

Like the majority of Tarantino films, this is a true classic. It secured Tarantino’s status in the industry as one of the brightest talents to ever emerge. The Academy Award winning script is astonishingly good, with memorable scenes, dialogue and characters throughout. From Travolta and Thurman’s classic dance scene, complete with Adrenaline shot to close the night, to Samuel L. Jackson’s crazed recital of a Bible excerpt; from Christopher Walken’s ‘watch up the ass’ speech to Keitel as The Wolf. The script is packed full of timeless moments, so there’s no wonder the film earned itself a load of Oscar nominations and the one win. All actors involved do a fantastic job of adapting to the stylistic approach of the eccentric genius that is Quentin Tarantino; and the music, well, as always with this Writer/Director’s films, it is perfection.

1. Reservoir Dogs (1992)

The film that started it all. It’s raw, it’s stylish, it’s cool as fuck; Reservoir Dogs not only propelled Tarantino to instant stardom, but more importantly, along with Pulp Fiction, it changed the nature of Hollywood Cinema.

Arguably the second most influential film of the 90s after his second project, Reservoir Dogs is a magnificent heist movie, the majority of which is set at a rendez-vous during the aftermath of a Diamond heist gone wrong. A wonderfully unique piece of writing and filmmaking, we are told the story in a stylistic back and forth narrative. On top of that, what made this film such a huge breath of fresh air in the industry was that the heist itself is never shown. All we are shown is the preparation and the chaos afterward; in all it’s glorious form.

When Tarantino developed this movie in Sundance’s own Screenwriting Lab, he couldn’t have thought he’d end up with such a stellar cast as this on his directorial debut; Harvey Keitel as co-producer and Mr. White; Michael Madsen as the terrifying but iconic Mr. Blonde; Steve Buscemi as Mr. Pink; Tim Roth as the undercover cop, Mr. Orange; Edward Bunker as Mr. Blue; Chris Penn as Nice Guy Eddie Cabot; Lawrence Tierney as Joe ‘The Thing’ Cabot and, of course, Tarantino himself as Mr. Brown. Each one of these actors put in an unbelievable shift, Michael Madsen for me being the standout as Mr. Blonde A.K.A. Vic Vega (Vincent’s brother perhaps?).

However, the real star of the show is the Screenplay. The dialogue is like nothing else the industry had ever seen or heard before. Of course, the style of the film, from the narrative to the matching suits and the use of multiple anti-heroes, is extremely unique. But the poetry of Tarantino’s words had all who watched mesmerized, and still does.